NEW YORK (AP) — Marcus Thornton has been around the Brooklyn Nets for only two weeks, so he’s still trying to learn his new team’s playbook.
According to Nets first-year coach Jason Kidd, there are some plays his reserve guard understands pretty well.
“It’s called ‘shoot it,'” Kidd said.
Thornton did just that on his way to scoring 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter against his old team while Joe Johnson added 18 points to help Brooklyn overcame an injury to Paul Pierce in a 104-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
Alan Anderson had 11 points and Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams each scored 10 points as the Nets won for the fifth time in six games. Brooklyn’s win was its seventh straight at the Barclays Center, matching a season-high set Dec. 27, 2013 to Jan. 24, 2014.
Thornton, acquired from the Kings in exchange for Reggie Evans and Jason Terry on Feb. 19, took it to his former teammates over a four-minute stretch that bridged the end of the third quarter and the opening minutes of the fourth.
With 5.5 seconds remaining in the third, Thornton made a 3-pointer to extend Brooklyn’s lead to 77-65. Thornton then continued his streak of 13 straight points by opened up the final quarter with a drive to the basket to extend the lead. He then stripped the ball from Ray McCallum and finger-rolled it to make it 81-65.
McCallum later would throw the ball out of bounds and Andray Blatche found Thornton for another 3 that made it 84-68. He then concluded his hot streak with another 3 right over former teammates Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins to make it 87-69 with 9:58 to go and the Nets never looked back leading by as many as 24 in the period.
“Anytime you see the ball go through the net, you get confidence about yourself,” said Thornton, who scored 15 straight against Memphis last week.
“I credit my teammates for finding me in spots I can be effective in. And my shots were going down.”
So far, Thornton been able to show flashes of that scorer Brooklyn was looking to add when they swung the deal before the trade deadline. He’s averaged 11.8 points in six games despite his limited knowledge of the team’s offensive scheme.
“If I’m open, I’m (going) to shoot it,” he said.
Thornton’s presence off the bench will be even more crucial if Pierce is out for an extended amount of time.
After the game, Kidd said the team would re-evaluate Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko, who left the game in the third quarter after spraining his right ankle.
“Well, I stepped on Deron’s foot in the first quarter and felt a little tweak,” Kirilenko said. “I thought I could keep going but obviously it just stopped me. I don’t think it’s a serious injury.”
Brooklyn will host the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors on Monday night. The Raptors currently hold a four-game lead over the second-place Nets.
Kings coach Michael Malone was criticial of the way the team mishandled the ball throughout the night while also singling out the way they shared the ball.
“Once again we continue to beat ourselves on the road. Eleven assists in 48-minute game is absurd. More importantly is the 25 turnovers for 28 points,” Malone said.
“What I see now on both ends of the floor is a disease of ‘me’. We’re becoming a selfish basketball team.”
Of the 25 turnovers forced by the Nets, 14 were steals.
Cousins had 20 points and 28 rebounds to lead the Kings, and Gay added 20 points.
“Turnovers killed us tonight,” Cousins said. “Turnovers and I’d say selfish basketball, that’s what really hurt us tonight. We let Marcus Thornton get hot. We let one of those shooters hurt us and that’s what kind of sealed the game.”
Brooklyn led by 16 points in the first half after losing Pierce to a right shoulder injury in the early minutes of the first quarter.
However, Brooklyn outscored Sacramento 47-32 the rest of the way.
Pierce got hurt with just under 11 minutes left in the first quarter when Sacramento’s Jason Thompson backed him into the paint and as he kept looking to post Pierce in the paint, he quickly spun around for a layup. Pierce felt the force of Thompson banging into him and clutched his shoulder.
Kevin Garnett has also missed the last five games with back spasms.
NOTES: Brooklyn improved to 14-11 against the Western Conference this season but are 10-3 since Jan. 1. … Brooklyn’s reserves outscored their counterparts 59-19.
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